Seven medical organizations announced their support for U.S. surgeon general nominee Henry Foster Jr., M.D., just as the nomination seemed headed for trouble on Capitol Hill.
The groups called on the Senate to give Foster a fair hearing and said he should be judged on his accomplishments, not private decisions made between a doctor and his patients.
"What's wrong is how we set our public servants up to fail before they are allowed to speak for themselves," said Ralph Hale, M.D., executive director of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Also supporting Foster were the American Medical Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Psychiatric Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and the Association of Academic Health Centers.
Meanwhile, conservative leader Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) said he would vote against Foster's confirmation and predicted that Foster would be rejected.
Foster drew fire from conservatives after he acknowledged performing about 39 abortions, not "fewer than a dozen" as he had stated a few days earlier. Speaking on ABC-TV's "Nightline," Foster said he revised his estimate after examining records of his 38-year career as an obstetrician-gynecologist.
Foster also said he participated in a study on an abortion-inducing suppository that resulted in up to 55 more pregnancy terminations.
Publicly, the White House continued to back the nomination.